New landlord and tenant legislation for Ontario, Spring 2007

New Rights for Tenants
Effective January 31, 2007, the Tenant Protection Act (the “old Act”) was repealed and be replaced by the Residential Tenancies Act (the “new Act”). Under the new Act the current Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal will be renamed the Landlord and Tenant Board (the “Board”). The new Act is more pro-tenant than the old Act.

Under the old Act if a tenant does not file a dispute within five days of being served with a landlord application the tribunal will issue a default order granting the landlord the relief it is seeking in its application.

The new legislation has eliminated default orders and all matters whether disputed or not must go before the Board. Accordingly, we will be required to attend at the board whenever we file a landlord application.

Under the old Act if a landlord brings an application for termination of a tenancy for non-payment of rent and the tenant intends to defend the application the tenant must plead its defence in a dispute form or in a tenant application and file these with the tribunal prior to the hearing.

Now if a landlord brings an application for termination of a tenancy for non-payment of rent the tenant does not have to file a dispute form or tenant application. As well, at a hearing the tenant may raise any issue that could be raised in a dispute form or tenant application. Further, at a hearing the Board may make an order in respect of an issue it could have made had the tenant filed a dispute form or made a tenant application.

The result of this is that a tenant does not have to respond to our application, he can show up on the date of the hearing and raise defences to the application without giving us any prior notice of the defences. It is anticipated that knowledgeable tenants will do just this.

It is also anticipated that knowledgeable tenants will make allegations that the landlord has not properly maintained the property as a defence to a claim for rent arrears and termination of a tenancy. This will cause delays because inevitably we will have to seek adjournments so that we can gather evidence to refute the tenant’s claims at a new hearing which may not be held for some time.

Under the old Act, when the tribunal gives an eviction order the order gives the tenant a specific date by which it must pay its rent arrears, for example, arrears must be paid by September 3, 2006. The order will go on to say that after September 3, 2006 the landlord may file the order with the sheriff and get an eviction date. Under the old Act a tenant cannot pay rent arrears after September 3, 2006 to avoid being evicted. A tenant may now avoid eviction by paying rent arrears at any time prior to the actual eviction taking place. However, the new law requires that tenants who pay arrears after an order has been sent to the sheriff must also pay any non-refundable payments made by a landlord to the sheriff for an eviction.

The new legislation requires landlords to provide tenants with information relating to the rights and responsibilities of tenants, the role of the Board and how to contact the Board in a form to be approved by the Board in every written tenancy agreement. The Board has not yet produced its approved form.

Previously, when a sheriff evicted a tenant, a landlord could not dispose of property left behind by the tenant until forty-eight hours after the eviction. The new Act extends this time to seventy-two hours.